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tonight on "nightline" -- it's round two for president obama and republican challenger mitt romney as they once again go head to head with a race in a dead heat and the pressure of the president's last debate stumbles looming large. what happened in the rematch? tonight our team of political pros tells us where they think the candidates succeeded and blundered in the "nightline" report card. and analyze that. could freud hold the key to who would be a better president? we hop onto the couch of the shrink who is unraveling the subconscious of the candidates. >> from the global resources of abc news. with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden, and bill weir in new york city. this is a special edition of "nightline."
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one on one, the presidential debate. good evening, i'm terry moran. well, that was a fierce debate. a heated showdown as president obama and his republican challenger mitt romney met on stage for a fiery second round in a town hall-style debate. with 21 days until election day, the heat is on. especially for the president looking to make a comeback after the lackluster showing in the last debate shifted the polls in romney's favor right across the country. tonight, both candidates came out ready for a fight. and here's how it all happened. >> candy, what governor romney said just isn't true. >> it was a real scrap. from the outset, both men went on the attack. mitt romney hammering home his basic campaign theme. >> the president's policies have been exercised over the last few years and they haven't put americans back to work. >> reporter: this time, president obama was ready. attacking crisply and frankly.
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>> governor romney says he has a five-point plan? governor romney doesn't have a five-point plan, he has a one-point plan. that plan is to make sure folks at the top play by a different set of rules. >> reporter: within the first 20 minutes as they argued about the president's record on energy, they almost seemed to want to wrassel each other. >> we are now -- >> and production on government on government land is down -- >> no, it isn't. >> of oil is down 14%. and production -- >> what you're saying is just not true. >> that's absolutely true. >> reporter: they really don't like each other. >> mr. president, have you looked at your pension? >> no, it's not as big as yours. >> reporter: began and again, clearly a strategy, the president acceptably called romney dishonest. >> not true, governor romney. that's not true. >> reporter: romney was something of an alpha male out there, trying to take command of the stage and time, once even silencing the president. >> you'll get your chance in a moment. i'm still speaking.
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>> reporter: overshadowing the debate, looming over the proceedings -- the game-changing first encounter between these men two weeks ago. >> as a president you have your own airplane and own house, not your own facts. >> romney was crisp, clear and energetic even as he baldly reinvented himself as a moderate after campaigning for a year with a very different message. >> i fought against long odds in a deep blue state, but i was a severely conservative republican governor. >> reporter: but in denver, on that debate stage, president obama failed utterly to counterpunch, looking down, avoiding eye contact, and any real confrontation. disinterested, even disheartened. >> i said i'm not a perfect man and i wouldn't be a perfect president and that's probably a promise governor romney thinks i've kept. >> reporter: the repercussions of that night have proved tectonic. >> we're taking back the white house. thank you so very much, thank you. >> reporter: on the campaign trail, romney is generating big crowds and new enthusiasm.
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republicans are stoked. key groups, especially women, are moving into his camp and he knows why. >> i had a debate about a week ago. i enjoyed that a great deal. i got to be honest. >> reporter: president obama, stung by criticism and some self-criticism, has ratcheted up his intensity on the stump and is drawing big crowds too. >> i still believe in you and i hope you still believe in me. we'll finish what we started. >> reporter: and the president's supporters got a bit of a boost from vice president biden's spirited to republicans' over the top debate against paul ryan. >> with all due respect, that's a bunch of may laurky. >> reporter: obama himself made clear to diane sawyer he knew what he had to do tonight. >> is it possible you handed him the election that night? >> no. >> you're going to win? >> yes. >> tonight, could you see that determination, competitive fire. >> governor, you're the last
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person who's going to get tough on china. >> reporter: romney didn't back down and he adroitly turned the debate back again and again to the grim statistics of the great recession. >> he's great as a speaker and describing his plans and his vision, that's wonderful, except we have a record to look at. >> reporter: on libya, romney may have stumbled, claiming it took the president 14 days to recognize the attack that killed four americans as a terrorist incident. >> i think it's interesting that the president said on the day of the attack he went on the rose garden and said this was an act of terror. >> that's what i did. >> you said in the rose garden, the day after the attack it was an act of terror? it was not a spontaneous demonstration? is that what you're saying? >> please proceed, governor. >> i want to make sure we get that for the record. because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in benghazi an act of terror.
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>> get the transcript. >> he did in fact, sir. >> reporter: at the very end, with president obama winning a coin toss and getting the last word, he used it to hammer mitt romney on his infamous comments about the 47% of americans he described as victims. >> think about who he was talking about. folks on social security who worked all their lives, veterans, who sacrificed for this country. students who are out there, trying to hopefully advance their own dreams but also this country's dreams. i want to fight for them. that's what i've been doing for the last four years because if they succeed, i believe the country succeeds. >> a fierce debate. they really didn't like each other. just ahead, they prepped george w. bush and al gore for their big debates. now our team of insiders will tell you which candidate they think came out on top be
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this special edition of "nightline," one on one, the presidential debate, continues with terry moran. time now for the "nightline" report card, our political insiders, nicolle wallace with
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john mccain, donna brazile, with al gore. matt dowd with george w. bush. let's go right too it. let's start with style. who took command of the stage? we'll start with mitt romney on style, give it a grade? >> b. >> d. >> c. >> two cs and a b. let's start with the b. what did you like about it? >> i gave him an a for the first debate and i thought tonight stepped down one full grade, from the first debate. i didn't think he was as focused and i didn't think he was as disciplined as he was in the first debate. that's why i lowered my grade. [ . >> i agree with nicole. he didn't seem in charge of the format. he looked rattled. he seemed hot under the collar. he wasn't in command. so, that's why i gave him a c. >> i gave him a c for very much the same reason. i thought that the barack obama strategy put him on the defensive from the very start. and i thought he re-engaged mitt romney, re-engaged in questions in a stylistic way that i didn't benefit him. he went back to things, seemed to argue with the moderator at times.
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i didn't think he did as well as the last time. >> was he rattled? he was certainly hotter. president obama, style? >> b minus. >> a. >> b. >> so let's go to the a. why? you liked him. >> no question, he was calm, he was the commander in chief. he knew mitt romney's positions better than mitt romney knew his own positions. i thought the president was smart, he connected with the audience in the room and the people outside tuning in. >> b minus? >> he won four years ago for being cool, for being cool under pressure. and tonight, he was hot. he was overheated, in my view and more importantly, for the president, i think he will be viewed as a little too overheated and too hot in the view of the few people who still haven't made up their mind or haven't decided whether they'll vote again for him as they did four years ago. >> definitely hotter this time. i gave a "b." as i said last time, i'm a tough "a." i thought the president did what he needed to do, what many
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people hoped, part sons had hoped he would do two weeks ago and came out on fire. came out jabbing, with energy, what he needed to do. i didn't think he was too aggressive in this debate at all, i thought he did exactly what he needed to do, put mitt romney on the defensive, and i think that changed it for him. >> the conventional wisdom is a town hall debate bate makes it harder to attack each other. but that's all they did all night. it was contentious. how did they make their case? mitt romney on substance? >> b. >> c. >> c. >> two cs. >> si, senor. >> you gave him "c" on substance, why? >> i don't think he had the answers on a certain amount of things like he did last time. even the ways he talked last time which he did very well last well he didn't turn to those points until the last half hour of this debate. and i thought on the most important substantive questions, barack obama had the most
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vulnerability on, which was libya, he failed on that question. >> i agree. he failed on libya. but he stumbled to explain his own policies. even on his so-called tax plan. once again, he could not make a real clear argument about the math. and whether or not it adds up, i gave him a c, i don't believe that mitt romney gave us any answers tonight to some of the things he hopes to accomplish if he is elected. >> you disagree? >> i gave him a b. he got in some good messages and good points and romney campaign will point to his answers on energy and energy production and how he plans to increase that and getting that message in about the five-point plan for adding jobs, something very important for them to convey and i thought he had other good opportunities to talk about the president's record and the problems there. i thought it was a solid b. >> let me ask you, seemed like one of the things the president tried do was pin on mitt romney some of the things he had said during the primaries.
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self-deportation, some of the social issues. that those positions seemed to come back and haunt romney a little bit because of the aggressiveness of president obama? >> defunding planned parenthood. president obama where he said three different times to remind voters, mitt romney, the guy who competed in the primary, the republican primary, was a severe conservative. then two weeks ago he was the moderate mitt. tonight we don't know which mitt romney showed up because president obama didn't allow him to pivot to the center some time. >> he wanted to force mitt romney on the defensive. that was his goal and he did it over and over, forced him to the defensive. >> that gets it to the president on substance. >> the president got a b-minus. >> a, another a. >> b. >> all right. we talked a little bit about him. what do you think the president missed on substance? >> i think it was the almost. almost 100% on negative attacks against his opponent. there was no talk and i think even donna and matthew who were excited about the president's performance tonight would be
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hard-pressed to point to a single example of him talking about the future. elections are always a debate about the future. >> i agree with that. i think why i wouldn't have given him an a we still haven't heard from the president in my view, about the next four years, he's still left a forward agenda off the table, a missing piece three weeks from the the election. >> big ticket. who won? >> i said romney by a hair. >> obama because he did talk about education, as a passport out of poverty. he did talk about health care. i still believe that president obama won because of the substance. >> tiebreaker. >> tigers in the ninth, won over the yankees. that's who won. obama won. >> two obamas, one romney. does it move the dial? >> it could put the possession arrow in obama's favor in a close race. >> nicole, donna, matt, thanks once again. we'll see you next week. and next up, ever wonder what is going on inside the psyches of the men who want to be president?
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psycho analyzing a person you never met may seem unorthodox, maybe beyond the bounds of the profession but when it comes to presidents, politicians and world leaders, their inner psyche is fair game from historians to the cia. now one psychiatrist is untangling the sub conscious of mitt romney and president obama and he let abc's jake tapper hop on to his couch. >> reporter: now that debates one and two are history have we finally, finally learned enough to pick one for president? >> he stuck his chin out and
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obama punched him hard. >> one thing women voters don't like and these two men were in each other's faces. >> reporter: this doctor watches not just as a voter and he's a liberal obama supporters it should be noted but as a psychoanalyst. >> shaking handses on the top on the as a way of letting now whoes boss. that's what romney did with obama. >> reporter: he's author "bush on the couch" and "obama on the couch." i would like to talk to you about issues i'm having with my candidates. i thought from his couch i might glean insight. you're a freudian. what does that mean? >> it means i'm interested in how people got to be the way they are, to look at unconscious factors in their childhood. >> reporter: psychanalyzing leaders is not so odd. was abraham lincoln gay? why was jack kennedy so reckless in his personal life? richard nixon, bill clinton, no shortage of material. i read an annal sa
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i read an annal nnalanalysis, t first debate who had a strong father versus who didn't. >> romney was very comfortable being assertive, taking charge, eye contact. also that romney has five sons and we know five sons you got to be tough. >> reporter: a conversation with dr. frank offers not the usual election analysis. >> both applied psychoanalysis. >> romney is what is called a narcissistic fighter, he fights by taking a superior position and talking down to the other person. >> reporter: that could describe most of the political discourse out there today, of course. >> i have a lot of history doing what is called applied psychoanalysis, looking at the past, looking at patterns, behavior, repetitive thinks. >> reporter: politicians might have another take on it. >> this is a bunch of stuff.
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>> reporter: long ago stuff. buried in the psyche stuff. frank posits that obama's belief he could change washington had its genesis in his childhood. >> he was fed a myth as a child about his father who was a black, african man who went to an all-white bar in hawaii and somebody making racist slurs and his father walked up to this guy in the middle of this all-white bar and talked him down from his racist attacks. that was a story that obama was fed over and over again and i think it's very important that he has the power of reason, he can reason with people and talk to them. but you can't reason with somebody who is convinced like mitch mcconnell in destroying you and making you're you're a o one-term president. >> and the seminal moment is when his father was essentially chased out of the republican race after he ended his support for the vietnam war saying this -- >> i had the greatest
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brainwashing anybody can get. >> that quote was terroristed unfairly and george romney became, sadly, something of a punchline. it was scathing for his son. >> one of the lessons he learned was never to risk being humiliated and never say what you actually think. >> reporter: chk, dr. frank, let's be frank. looking at mitt romney and bara barack obama in terms of mental health is there one you would give the edge to? >> to be president you have to a certain amount of unhealth as long as you're reality tested. you have to be strong and do things that people don't like. you're not always going to be considerate and always be thoughtful. i think that is a different kind of leadership. >> reporter: the view from the couch of dr. justin frank. for "nightline" i'm jake tapper in washington. >> jake tapper on the couch. thank you for watching abc news. check in for "good morning america," they are working while you're sleeping. see you here tomorrow.

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Nightline
ABC October 16, 2012 11:35pm-12:00am PDT

News/Business. Cynthia McFadden, Terry Moran, Bill Weir. (2012) Pivotal moments from the night's presidential debate. New. (CC)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Libya 3, Mitt Romney 3, Terry Moran 3, Obama 3, Abc News 2, George W. Bush 2, Washington 2, Dr. Frank 2, Barack Obama 1, Yankees 1, Chk 1, Annal Sa 1, Hawaii 1, Unhealth 1, Weir 1, China 1, Denver 1, Hives 1, Obamas 1, Nicole 1
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